Posted: 26th September 2014

Ofgem demands improvements for handling energy complaints

Bulb Row

The UK energy regulator Ofgem has stepped in to ensure that the poor standard of complaint-handling delivered by the Big Six energy suppliers is addressed and action is finally taken.

This comes after Ofgem’s research found that over half of customers were not happy with the way their complaints were handled by their energy provider.

Ofgem chief executive, Dermot Nolan, said “These satisfaction scores are frankly awful. Almost all energy suppliers need to improve their complaints handling as a matter of urgency.

There are real business benefits to good complaints handling schemes, and it shouldn’t need a regulator to tell companies about the importance of this.”

Even more worrying, in almost half of the cases where the supplier considered the complaint case settled, the customer did not.

Npower and Scottish Power were found to have the lowest levels of customer satisfaction. This was also reinforced earlier in the week in a report by Which? showing that Npower and Scottish Power ranked as bottom two in a cross-industry list of 100 UK companies for customer service in 2014.

Ofgem has written to all CEOs of the Big Six energy providers along with challenger and independent providers, informing them that they must improve. The key areas highlighted for improvement include:

  1. Speed of complaint resolution
  2. Communicating with customers throughout the complaint process
  3. Proactivity in complaint resolution

Considering they reported that nearly one in two customers have either switched or are planning to switch as a result of their experience when making a complaint, it is clear that it is in the best interests of energy companies to improve customer service.

Ofgem are now planning on conducting their next survey a year earlier to ensure the necessary improvements have been implemented, and if there is still a shortfall, the industry may face further regulation.

Whatever your starting point, the Maru/Syngro briefing paper How To Compete on Customer Experience can help guide your next steps in tackling poor customer service to retain customers and promote advocacy.

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